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Monday, November 11, 2013

Module 11: Bodies from the Ash: Life and Death in Ancient Pompeii

Module 11: Informational Books

Bodies from the Ash: Life and Death in Ancient Pompeii
Author: James M. Deem

Book Summary:
     Bodies from the Ash is about the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and its effect on the people on Pompeii. Mostly the book goes into detail about what happened to the bodies that were left behind. Many bodies were left casted with pumice and ash and were put on display for tourists. The ruins of Pompeii, along with the bodies, became a big tourist attraction, and a railway was even installed at one point so tourists would not have to climb the mountain. Bodies from the Ash also goes into detail about what archaeologists have learned from studying the remains.
APA Book Reference:
Deem, J. M. (2005). Bodies from the ash: Life and death in ancient Pompeii. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company.

     While Bodies from the Ash was very informative, I found it to be quite boring. The “story” was very dry, but the many pictures helped to keep my interest. However the formatting of the story with the pictures was difficult to follow. There was often too much on the pages. The story continued from previous pages, but there were also sub-stories in boxes and pictures with footnotes. With all of that information in one spread, I did not know what to focus on and often got distracted.
     Despite the distracting format, this book could be used as teaching tool in a history lesson on volcanoes and their aftermath. It featured many pictures of the bodies, and a child reading this book would most likely be drawn to that fact alone. 

Professional Review:
Cooper, I. (2005). Deem, James M. bodies from the ash: Life and death in ancient Pompeii. Booklist, 102(5). 39. Retrieved from: http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA138705112&v=2.1&u=txshracd2679&it=r&p=LitRC&sw=w&asid=000efcbc07663e5d0838782e808fb660
“Gr. 5-8. On August 24, 79 C.E., the long-silent Mt. Vesuvius erupted, and volcanic ash rained down on the 20,000 residents of Pompeii. This photo-essay explains what happened when the volcano exploded--and how the results of this disaster were discovered hundreds of years later. A tragedy this dramatic demands an affecting text, but this one begins rather ploddingly with the events of August 24 and 25, and moves through the rediscovery of the city and the surrounding areas, with progressively more being learned. What the text lacks in excitement is made up for by the enormous amount of information Deem offers, some of which was acquired in on-site research. The excavations and body preservation techniques are explained in detail; everyday life in the city and the later tourist activity centered in Pompeii are also highlighted. But the jewels here are the numerous black-and-white (and some color) photographs, especially those featuring the plaster casts and skeletons of people in their death throes. The horizontal format, with pages looking as though they were partially bordered in marble, makes an attractive setting for the art. Excellent for browsers as well as researchers.”

Library Uses:
      This book could be used in a display and or discussion about volcanoes. It could also be featured on display with other informational or history books.

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